Madness on the reefs
  |  First Published: March 2015

Some serious wind and some rain with minor flooding kicked off February, making for a not so enjoyable start to the month.

An issue after a lot of rain we boaties often face, and is often not thought about, is the debris floating around that floodwaters carry out to the ocean. You should always keep a proper lookout whilst motoring around, but even more so after, or during large rainfall periods. Hitting some of this debris could bring an ugly end to your trip.

With the small floods came the opening of the barra season. We have seen some nice fish being caught in the local estuaries and rivers. The most productive times for these fish is early morning or late afternoon, however you can still catch them during the day, but the numbers have been greater during the earlier and later periods.

The most common way the barramundi are targeted is casting lures and plastics at snags, and also the deep holes at the bottom of the tide. Although, the old fashioned live mullet is also very productive. Quite often you can sight cast your artificials to these fish making for an exciting hunt. Barramundi are an excellent fighting fish and are great fun to target.

Another good option whilst targeting barra is to soak a few crab pots, especially as there are still good numbers of mud crabs around. At the end of the day it is a fantastic sight to have a few muddies on board for a tasty dinner that night. Love a good old North Queensland lollypop (crab, nipper for all you southerners!)

Out wide the golden snapper (fingermark) have really been biting hard and should continue into March, which is very exciting for us as they are a beautiful fish and equally as beautiful on the dinner plate. They are a notoriously hard-fighting fish that can give you some serious curry! Be prepared for an awesome fight!

Fingermark to 75cm have been landed, but no matter the size they will give you some hurt. We have been having great success fishing the incoming tide on the wide reefs and shoals. Fishing simple paternoster rigs, loaded with flesh baits are enticing these hard fighters to bite. Live baits have been working well also, but just require a little more patience.

You may not get as many bites, but when you do you know it’s going to be cracking fish. A good idea to catch your live bait is to rig a rod with a small bait jig consisting of several hooks and a sinker on the bottom, and on your way out stop by some fringing reefs and shallow bommies and drop your bait jig in around them. It doesn’t take long to get a few live baits then you are on your way again.

As for rigging live baits for the bottom, a paternoster rig will suffice. Position your hook just through the top of the back more towards the head, as a lot of the bottom dwelling species will eat a bait head first as opposed to a lot of the pelagic species. Live hussar have been the go for us, and have been the downfall of a lot of nice reef fish, including nannygai, coral trout especially the fingermark. Some nice nannygai are still being caught and we should continue seeing these fish into March.

Fishing these styles will net you a good bag of fish, but only take what you need, which can be hard to get when the sharks are hungry too. It is a good idea to move if you start losing a lot of fish to sharks. This will be good for your fish tally and even better for your hip pocket as they tend to take your rigs with the fish also.

Practice safe boating if you intend on heading out on the water this month. Remember to keep an eye out for logs and other debris especially after plenty of rain. Best of luck, might see you out on the blue!

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